Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Ted S. McGregor, Jr.


China makes just about everything we consume these days, and lately they've even been making inroads in one of the few remaining American-dominated industries: entertainment. Director Zhang Yimou has transformed himself from maker of quiet little films like Raise the Red Lantern to an auteur of action, as in Hero. But if you're looking for another Hero, which featured Jet Li and a Who's Who of martial arts superstars, you might be disappointed. Then again, if you'd like to see something with a bit more Raise the Red Lantern in it, you're in luck. House of Flying Daggers is, at its heart, a love story -- with flying daggers.


The film is set in ninth-century China, where the unpopular central government has an uprising on its hands. A mysterious rebellion is afoot, and government agents are out to expose members of the secret House of Flying Daggers. A blind girl, Mei (Ziyi Zhang), is their only link to the enemies of the state, so they set a trap for her. But naturally, Mei is a lot more then they bargained for. In the end, nothing is as it appears, and as fortunes are reversed, love and jealousy complicate everything.


Like Hero, House of Flying Daggers is made up of a series of set pieces involving sword-fighting and martial arts -- oh, and lots of flying daggers. But Yimou has made this film even more beautiful -- his use of color is hypnotic, from the ornate Peony Pavilion where Mei dances to the lush bamboo forests where danger lurks. Yimou loves Zhang's face, and he gives her plenty of lingering close-ups in her saturated costumes. And the action is more elegant, too, with his use of slow motion and his camera following all those flying daggers as they cut through the air and find their marks. When those daggers come out of nowhere, it's a neater cinematic trick than most of the overblown CGI shots coming out of Hollywood.


Still, House of Flying Daggers suffers from the kind of emptiness that plagues many American films -- the kind that are compared to a ride at Disneyland, then forgotten. This is more like a visit to an art gallery. That's not all bad, though too much melodrama keeps Daggers from being a great film (like Hero). But it is great looking.





Publication date: 05/19/05

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Recall and Response
  • Recall and Response

    The attempt to remove Spokane Mayor David Condon from office may be a long shot, but he isn't taking any chances
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Shades of Black Lives
  • Shades of Black Lives

    A Spokane County detective's Facebook post about Black Lives Matter sparks debate among local law enforcement
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Fires Hit Home
  • Fires Hit Home

    Tens of thousands of acres burn around Spokane on Sunday and Monday; plus, DOJ weighs in on concerns over bail system
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

  • Staying Engaged
  • Staying Engaged

    From the Mayfair Cafe to Central Park
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • Institutional Amnesia
  • Institutional Amnesia

    Threading the needle between reform and revolution
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    Classic rock, a modern Altman classic and the big man throws it down (on paper)
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


election 2016


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • Green Thumbs
  • Green Thumbs

    Inside Buddy Boy Farm
    • Jan 28, 2015
  • 'I Do Not Trust Muzlims'
  • 'I Do Not Trust Muzlims'

    Comments by the wife of Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell have raised questions about his office's impartiality
    • Feb 25, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation